The last major instruction that I see permeating the pages of Lacan’s text concerns itself, much like Jullian’s text, with this notion of affect. As mentioned in a previous post offered in my deconstruction of Jullien’s commentary on art and the divide between Eastern and Western ways of thinking, Jullien relies on aesthetics, the notion of shi, as manifested in the Eastern art of calligraphy, paintings and literature to suggest that art is not the result of something, per se, but the manifestation, representation, and display of that thing. As reflected in the post about Eastern art, I want to draw attention to what Lacan has to say about the beautiful and aesthetic and viewers’ and readers’ response to arrive to my next instruction.
In class, we discussed Lacan’s concept of anamorphosis, the uncanny change in image (the painting’s image) that can be manipulated by the subject’s perspective. This shift in perception causes a slight perceived distortion of the image. But is this distortion really present? The presumed distortion is only created by the faultiness of the eye, which based on perspective, can allow for the image to change slightly. But in reality, the image is static. How might influence how spectators are supposed to respond to art?
In order, to draw attention to what Lacan is really saying about art it is best that attention is given to those places within his text from which he uses art to make correlations to his theories about psychoanalysis. First, I would like to turn attention to what Lacan states is the difference between a painting and photo: “In [a] picture, the artist, we are told by some, wishes to be a subject, and the art of painting is to be distinguished from all others in that, in the work, it is the subject, as gaze, that the artist intends to impose himself on us.”—100. Lacan communicates that in photography the photographer maintains the position of subject as he captures and traps the image controlling its circulation. However, the opposite happens with the painter, who, as Lacan notes, tries to impose himself on the spectator/viewer. In this way, through the subject gaze the painter initially starts off as object but transfers to the position of subject as the spectator or viewer tries to make sense of the painting.
Before I move on to the instruction portion of this blog post, I would like to give attention to one last significant analogy that Lacan makes with art and the notion of the gaze. Lacan begins by saying that anything resembling a drive is a montage—something that runs together and yet form a simultaneous collective and independent narrative. The montage is that which reflects a piece that is framed by individual parts to form a collective whole while relying on individual panels that tell their own story separate from the collective. Much like Barthes’s notion of punctum, the montage resembles drive and functions to seize our attention— captivate us, and freeze us in any way. We are meant to be drawn in and seduced. Disruption, presumed distortion, occurs in order to draw attention to the "thing" that has really seized our attention, the punctum—the gaze. In relation to our desire perhaps this is the reason why it is difficult to move past our desires and why the libido (drive) manifests itself through the unconscious. For Lacan, art makes the viewer aware of both himself as subject and object. The spectator is both the individual writing and being written at the very instance of trying to make sense of the image that stands or hangs before him. As a result, I believe that Lacan is suggesting that we become aware of how various art forms influence us. We should not resist the penetration but accept that we are continuously being constituted by representations of reality around us.
Instruction 3: Go to your local museum. Find three images, pictures, paintings, or sculptors that stand out to you—the ones that freezes your attention. Record why you are attracted to them and in addition, state how you have used your own knowledge to make sense of these pieces. In addition, record how each piece has made you feel—the mood it has created within you.